When did that happen? What day did we do that? How long has it been since we started this? These questions are always popping up around the farm. With lots of things always happening, it can be hard to remember what happened when to whom! And this is where you need something quick, easy, and to the point for keeping track of all your happenings on the farm.
Record keeping is vital for your farm. From keeping track of things for tax purposes to remembering who is due when, it all needs to be recorded. This helps with so many things. And in this day and age, it should be pretty quick and simple. (There are apps for that). The main point is to make sure it fits with how you operate and it is versatile enough to be on the move with you. It needs to go anywhere you do.
APPS FOR THAT
There are many note-taking apps that can be used. Some are incorporated into a bigger planner so your calendar and notes are all in one spot. If you prefer pen-to-paper record keeping, Use Your Handwriting is a good app. You have about seven main categories and from there you can have infinite folders to organize your stuff. The best part is that when you add a note, all you have to do is write on your screen. It saves your notes in your handwriting. I use that one for quick notes or getting info for something or someone. My main note taker is Evernote. Each of your folders can have multiple notes in it. You can also group notebooks together. So you can have a group for the farm and notebooks for each major part of the farm. Excellent for keeping everything together, farm and personal.
ORGANIZING THAT CHAOS
Okay. So you’ve looked through apps and have found what you like. Now to get this chaos organized. I tend to group things by year. Right now I have a notebook for 2017. In it are my many notes just for what happens this year. I have a note for hay, where I jot down how much hay was bought when, from whom, and how much it was. I also have a note for any animals bought. We do refresh the herds every once in a while. Birth and death notes are to keep track of who was born when or who may have died and cause of death. There is also an animal sale note for live animals sold or butchered animals sold. And again included is date, animal, butchered or not, sold to, and amount. I also have a journal for the year where I can jot down everyday happenings. From how many eggs were gathered that day to what the weather was to how certain animals were acting. This way everything is just jotted down as it happens and can be used for reference later if need be.
EXPAND YOUR CHAOS
Now, I also need concrete notebooks for long-term records. These go under a notebook specifically for each thing needed. For example, I have a notebook for each species. In them is a separate note for each animal born or bought and a running record for that animal. Birthdate, any doctoring that was done, injuries, even when they attended something (say for our petting farm or the county fair). I also add in, in a different color ink so it stands out, when they have babies and which ones they are. This gives the eye a quick glance at how many offspring each female has produced for us. Therefore, everything that happened to that animal is recorded. This is very important when you are selling animals. Some people want a history of the animal as well as if something happens with that animal (say they are butchered and someone gets sick). You can also have running records for babies per year, hay (bales and bought) per year, crops produced yearly. This will give a good look at the big picture. Monitoring crop production is a must to succeed. If a certain crop isn’t producing like it used to then you have an idea of what to look into. Or maybe a certain crop isn’t bringing in money, even though each year you thought it was.
As well as running and yearly records, you also need future plans. This is a good place to keep it. Making a notebook for farm planning will help out greatly. In this one, you can keep your farm goals from next month to 10 years from now. Your business plan can also be kept here, making it useful to refer to. And thanks to Evernote being work-oriented, you can share any note with someone you need to. I actually write my articles in Evernote (because then I can write anywhere I get a chance), and then input them into Homestead Hustle. So, while you’re looking into purchasing that land you’re on, you can send your seller and bank your farm business plan in an instant, helping to speed the process.
Another way of easily keeping track of some things is by using your social media. I love taking pictures, so I make it a point to get pictures of all the babies the day they are born and post them to our Facebook farm page. If I’m unsure about a birthdate I forgot to write down, a quick glance at the page helps me out. It also doubles as a draw for your followers and customers by providing engagement into the farm’s life. By keeping everyone engaged, they are more likely to share what is going on at your farm, thus providing potential customers. Positive interaction with your customers, whether virtual or real, is the single most important task at the farm. And being organized to do so can really save you time.
By organizing your chaos, every detail of your farm’s life will be recorded. This will help you keep your sanity as well as be prepared for just about anything that will come your way concerning farm matters. Having it mobile will help you keep up with everything as it happens. And this will lead to more successful interactions for you and your farm business in turn, building a farm business you can really take pride in.